Publisher: Marvelous Entertainment
Platform: PS4, PS Vita, PS TV
Tested on: PS TV
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus – Review
Ninjas are most commonly known in their black attire, being as stealthy as possible, or even in their teenage mutant ninja turtles form, but this does not mean the (human ones) were always like this. Among the ranks of the ninjas were also those who used seduction to get close to their target(s) in order to succeed in their assassination assignments, thus sexiness could easily be turned into a weapon as well. This brings us to the ninjas in Senran Kagura: Estival Versus, which is crammed full with a lot of lovely ladies, who just happen to know their way around many deadly weapons. Whilst their weaponry skills are already impressive, it’s the amount of nosebleeds you’ll get by them flaunting what mother nature gave them, that will turn out to be their deadliest asset.
The life of a shinobi is a hard one, as they live to accomplish their goals, which often means that their lives tend to end on their peaks due to all the dangers they find themselves in. Nonetheless, this world has a fair share of female ninja schools, which all train their fighters to become legends in the flesh. That being said, as many lives are extinguished in the line of duty, many lingering spirits still remain in our world and even though they can’t always be seen, they can be senses and in some cases they even need help crossing over, so they can finally enjoy their eternal rest.
When Ryõbi and Ryõna are messing around and stumble upon an eerie sight in the distance they are baffled, especially when they see a ritual being performed amidst a group of spirits. While reluctant at first to take a closer look, their doubt immediately shifts to determination when they see the spirit of their dead sister, Ryõki amongst the lost souls. Upon storming into the fray something goes terribly wrong when they, and their deceased sister, get sucked into an alternate universe. Even though the other dimension drags them to a beautiful beach, they still want to know why they suddenly came into contact with their older sister.
In the meantime, the other ninja schools are slowly getting dragged one by one into the alternate dimension, as they will have to help to let all the spirits cross quietly as well. Of course, there is more amiss than just this, but they’ll have to tackle one thing (and one another) one at a time.
Even though at first, with the topic of bare skinned ladies, it seemed like the story value would be nonexistent, there is actually a lot of story value to be found within this title, if you can handle a lot of humorous banter in the process. Before and after each mission, you’ll be treated to loads of simple, yet witty, conversations that help shape the story and add a little naughtiness to the entire plot.
Seeing this game’s visuals are pretty much all about ‘fan service’, the words wobble wobble wobble might be rather ideal to describe the things you get to see onscreen. This means the busty (get it?) part of the game is all about boobs and butts, in a sexy digitized fashion, with no nudity but little is left to the imagination nonetheless. While many might argue that things are taken too far at times with suggestive poses and very flimsy clothing, the game that surrounds this all actually looks rather colorful, appealing and decent, even when using the PS TV to play the Vita version on the big screen.
As the breast (another pun!) of Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is still a fighting game there is still a lot more to be seen than the attractive female cast. Every character has its very distinct features, and its own range of weapons and attacks, creating a hefty amount of diversity when it comes to the playable cast. The vibrant colors add up to the atmosphere of the game, which in turn creates a likeable whole. While the environments themselves aren’t always that varied or feel empty at times, things tend to hold their own quite well on this handheld version of the game.
Even though the entire picture is pretty decent, there are a few glitches and bugs that hamper the colorful party. For example, ribbons and ties often simply vanish through pieces of clothing and enemy grunts moonwalk over the floor, presenting you with awkward gliding opponents, even when they don’t even move their legs. Minor issues perhaps, but noticeable ones that tend to be rather distracting (and that’s hard to say when you get confronted with six boobs per minute).
Sound wise the game offers nothing innovating, but the voice acting tends to stick out from the music. You’ll be treated to the original Japanese voices, which are stunning and appealing, with the necessary overacting which goes hand in hand with this type of game. The music lacks a bit of character, as the overall feeling is a bit timid in comparison with the action that is going on onscreen.
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is an action packed brawler, with many story sequences thrown into the mix. This means you’ll enjoy punching many adversaries to a bloody, half naked pulp while being able to relax during the banter of the different girls.
The format of the game is actually a lot like the Dynasty Warriors franchise, at least in terms of fighting. You’ll mainly occupy yourself with short missions, which all last around ten minutes, disregarding the story that comes before and after them. In these missions you’ll have to beat several hordes of smaller grunts, followed by a boss battle against one or more adversaries from a rivaling ninja school, or sometimes even one of your own classmates. Of course, sometimes some objectives are thrown into the mix, or you’ll have to respect a certain time limit to complete your mission successfully. While these missions first force you to pick a specific character, in order to follow the story of the game, you’ll be able to select your favorite character when you replay a mission.
Combat itself is rather intuitive but not always as smooth as you’d like it to be. Certain commands prove to be rather unresponsive and slow, but in the end it’s pretty much button bashing all the way, with some evasive actions and blocking thrown into the mix. All characters have their own set of basic attacks, be it light or strong ones, but each character can also morph into her Shinobi or Frantic modes. The first one will refill your health bar and unlock the usage of special abilities, while the latter will also unlock said abilities, but you’ll trade in your defense for a growth in raw power. It’s actually quite fun to try out all the different warriors, as they all fight very differently but there’s also a clear difference in smoothness and their arsenal of special skills. As the different ninjas level up, they will in turn unlock new skills, which make your combos lengthier or add new special abilities to the fray.
Camera angles and the lock on system are pretty much the only things that drag the game down a bit in terms of quality. You’ll often find yourself looking at a wall or another obstacle when you’re locked onto an enemy, making it very annoying to gain a proper view again, if you’re not already getting beaten up. The locking mechanism also proves to be rather useless, as your attacks aren’t even directed at your target, making you miss a lot of your special abilities, simply because your character decided to turn around at the last moment.
To stay true to the fan service portion of the game, you’ll be able to dress up all of the ladies, in different outfits, lingerie and swimsuits and boy-oh-boy there are many options for you to pick from. Keep in mind though, if you wish to see the entire story in an ‘unspoiled’ fashion, it’s best to let everyone keep his own outfit until you’ve completed the rather lengthy campaign. If you do dress up the girls to a way you see fit, they will appear as such in the story mode, even in the dialogues, which is actually a fun touch. Create a horde of girls in school uniforms or skimpy swimsuits, it’s pretty much your own pick.
Another fun way to occupy yourself is collecting money in order to buy artwork, video clips and even new outfits. As there are several hundred collectibles for you to unlock, you’ll surely have your work cut out for you.
Even though Senran Kagura: Estival Versus originally seemed like a pervert’s fantasy, the game actually holds its own quite well. The story contains a lot of banter and sexual references but also a rather deep underlying plot, that might even make you emotional from time to time. The combat might not always be the smoothest a game can offer, but for this handheld version things actually feel rather decent and above all, fun. If you’re looking for a lighthearted game (with lots of boobs and butts) that has fun fighting mechanics and a loveable cast, this one might saturate your hunger for quite some time.